#1 best trekking peak is …


If you are going to Africa for just one climb, this is it.

The standard Marangu route is 64km (40mi) plus sidetrips if you make the summit. The majority of those who try, do not get to the top.

Technically the trek is not challenging. But anywhere between 2-10 hikers die each year from altitude sickness. It’s difficult to acclimatize while ascending 4,600m (15,000ft) from the plains to 5896m (19,344ft).

Why we (still) love it:

  • the highest mountain on the continent
  • no need for rope or technical experience
  • one of the “seven summits”
  • the most sought after trek in Africa
  • the sense of accomplishment getting to Gillman’s Point on the crater rim. (Most turn back here.)
  • few do the extra 2hrs or more to Uhuru peak to get a photograph with the sign “Highest Point in Africa”.
  • on the Marangu Route you can sleep in huts or tents. (Other routes you must sleep in tents.)
  • can be climbed year round
  • enjoy almost every type of climate on one trip
  • the summit actually has GSM mobile phone service for emergencies


  • no independent hikers allowed since 1991
  • minimum cost in 2006 is US$800 carrying your own pack.
  • the Marangu route has been called filthy and overpriced
  • Kilimanjaro often called the highest ‘walkable’ mountain in the world — not true. There are many volcanos higher that can be ‘walked’ in good weather and more than a few higher trekking peaks. Kilimanjaro must be the most popular of the high peaks, however.
  • over 20,000 hikers in 2000
  • even though the volcano is close to the equator, high up be prepared for rain, snow & bitter cold any day of the year
  • warm sleeping bag needed
  • you can tent instead of staying in the huts, but the cost is the same
  • though technically not active, steam is released from the crater & there is a slight chance the mountain could collapse as did Mount St Helens
  • normally the final climb is done at night as the scree is frozen. Many hikers start climbing at midnight. This can be a 16hr walking day!Sounds bad?There is a SMART way to go. Budget the money, then schedule a climb of lower Mt. Meru first followed by an immediate start on Kili. Use the Mt. Meru days for altitude acclimatization, not necessarily to get to the top.

    If possible take one of the alternate (longer, more expensive) routes on Kilimanjaro to allow more days to acclimatize.

    Details on our Kilimanjaro Marangu Route information page.

    And get a good guidebook early. Over 80% of Kilmanjaro hikers book their trip from home, not in Tanzania.

    The Trekking Guide to Africa's Highest Mountain - 2nd Edition; Now includes Mount Meru

    Kilimanjaro: The Trekking Guide to Africa’s Highest Mountain – 2nd Edition; Now includes Mount Meru

#8 best hike in the world is …

The Annapurna Circuit

The best trekking region in Nepal.

The first reaction of most hikers: “What about Maoist rebels extorting money from trekkers?”

YetiZone is the #1 website on the Circuit. Editor Ian Johnson says:

“No trekkers have been harmed during the conflict – both sides recognise the need for the revenues that tourism brings. Both sides are taxing tourists. You may therefore find that the Maoists may expect you to pay their trekking tax – keep the receipt! There is, in our opinion, no reason for tourists to be concerned about the Maoists.”

When we were there in 1998 the Maoists were sometimes collecting a “tax”. We did not meet any of them. In 2006 the fee seems to have become a little more structured.

If you decide to go, budget for the “extra donation to the Communist Party”.

Many call Annapurna the best hike in the world, by far. It is fantastic!

The entire Circuit is about 300km (186mi), 3 weeks circumambulating the Annapurna massif of peaks. This region is unique in the Himalaya in that it is relatively easy to get up close and personal with two of the world’s highest peaks.

Surprisingly, hiking here is recommended for all levels of ability and experience. Many non-hikers do the entire Circuit.

You can hike independently with a light pack, staying in wonderful mountain “lodges” and eating at wonderful restaurants. Or sign on with any of hundreds of trekking tours or independent porter guides.

There is not a more relaxed long hike anywhere. But if 3 weeks it too long, shorter sections recommended are the Jomsom Trek and Annapurna Base Camp.

Why we love it:

  • walk from lush sub-tropic to the highest mountains in the world
  • the surreal light in the arid Trans-Himalayan region
  • wonderful cultural experiences with the Tibetan and mountain peoples
  • Buddhist temples, architecture and tradition
  • wonderful photographic opportunities
  • Thorung La 5416m (17,769ft) is the highest altitude ever reached by most hikers
  • very little gear is needed
  • you can easily get pack weight down to 10kg (22lbs)
  • walk with no tent, stove or food. Even books are available on the trail.
  • stay in lodges, eat in lovely restaurants.
  • it’s safe and easy to hike solo
  • no need to speak Nepali, only English
  • food is good and quite safe
  • Kagbeni, the gateway to Lo (Mustang) is wonderful
  • a number of hotsprings en route
  • walking the Kali Gandaki, the world’s "deepest" river valley, 5500 to 6800m lower than the two peaks either side
  • Considerations:

  • crossing Thorung La can be a struggle even if you are acclimatized as the air is thin. Bad weather sometimes causes a build-up of hikers on the east side of the pass.
  • garbage is a problem in some sections
  • footwear is critical on long hikes where you have no chance for replacement
  • sunglasses / eye protection needed
  • this is not a wilderness hike. The Annapurna Circuit is mostly a road! On the other hand, by departing early in the morning, or hiking late during the afternoon, you can get the trail to yourself.
  • both men and women are advised to wear modest clothing respecting local culture
  • we treated water with a filter but boiling is even better
  • "squater" pit toilets are the norm
  • many hikers run out of money, tempted by pizza, beer, German bakeries and everything else. Almost everyone spends more money than they expect.
  • evacuation by helicopter costs about $3000, guaranteed in advance
  • Details on our Annapurna Circuit information page.

    Looking for more inspiration? Start with this, the best of a number of coffee table photography books:

    The Essence of the Annapurna Circuit (Mountain Photography)

    A Nepalese Journey: The Essence of the Annapurna Circuit

    build a quinzee (snow shelter)

    The quickest way to get shelter in the snow is to build a snow cave or quinzee. (quinzhee)

    Once built, the door loosely covered (to allow in some air), temperature stabilizes at about 0C (32F). You can wear a t-shirt while sitting inside your sleeping bag quite comfortably as there is no wind.

    One candle will provide enough brightness.

    Jason Klass has a new gear blog, one post showing a huge quinzee.


    The roof looks too heavy to me. We keep ours no thicker than 12in as people have suffocated after collapses.


    Check out Jason’s blog, Homemade Backpacking Gear.

    By the way, I notice he is using freewebs.com software. Looks good. I have another friend very happy with that free site hosting software. (I cannot seem to find an RSS feed from the blog, however.)

    article “winter camping for beginners”

    Club Tread is a site I have been using for years for advice on trips in Western Canada. We link to many of their pages.

    But this is the best Club Tread article yet!

    Thanks so much to author Stephen Sharp.

    He is less keen on building a quinzee than am I:

    All my experiences with snow shelters have not been successful or comfortable. They are fun to build but I am claustrophobic!

    They are definitely warmer than a tent but take at least three hours to excavate. Having to evacuate a snow cave in the middle of a blizzard because the roof was collapsing under the weight of an enormous snowfall has soured me completely on them.

    My favorite snow shelter is a snow trench. Essentially it is a trench dug into the snow in which sleeping platforms have been cut and is covered by a tarp that is covered with a layer of snow. Remember to bring some sort of sleeping bag cover to protect it from getting wet from dripping melt water!

    I find that a candle lantern is an essential piece of gear to use in any shelter or tent. Besides providing light, a candle will help dry out the air and add a little warmth.


    ClubTread.com – Winter Camping for Beginners

    (via The Adventure Blog)

    gear – backpack with solar power

    We took a roll-up solar charging panel with us to Peru. And ended up neither needing it or using it.

    But … if it was built into the backpack itself. We certainly would have.

    TreeHugger.com posted a short video with Shayne McQuade, inventor of the Voltaic Solar Backpack. Very interesting.

    Looking forward to hearing from those who have tried this technology on the trail.

    There are a number of different models available. This pack costs about US$220.


    Voltaic Solar Panel Daypack

    foot pain when hiking

    I’m taking my new hiking boots to be “stretched”. Which of these foot problems is motivating my radical action (which might shorten the life of my expensive footwear)?

  • Bunions
  • Hammertoe
  • Morton’s Neuroma
  • Plantar Fasciitis (can lead to heel spur)
  • Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Hallux Limitus
  • Nail Fungus
  • Answer? ….

    Bunions. Mine are not genetic, rather built up after injuries.

    Bunion pain is my biggest problem as a hiker. Any advice for me? (Leave a comment below.)

    Active Feet to Aging Feet to Aching Feet – New York Times

    image source

    anti-friction skin cream

    If you suffer from chaffing, check out this product. Runner Trish Monks swears by it.


    I have used Bodyglide Skin Formula on my lower back (when I wear my water belt over long distances it prevents my skin being worn away), on my feet to help prevent blisters, on my inner thighs to prevent skin on skin chafing and on my chest around where my sports bra rubs sometimes. It works miracles, and has prevented many a painful abrasion ‘injury’ – unfortunately it’s only when I forget to put it on, that I realise just how great it is!

    … I have only had only moderate success with it protecting my feet.

    The Review: Bodyglide Anti-Friction Skin Formula

    Buckskin and Paria Canyon, Utah

    My legs ached with cold, like a swarm of angry hornets had stung me with freezing venom they throbbed. Jen sobbed as our weary group of five sloshed through the turbid Paria River on the start of day 3. I stretched a nervous hand behind to feel how much the holes abraded by the red sandstone in my pack had grown since the day before. I swallowed hard when I felt my gear poking through.

    “Once the sun gets into the canyon it is going to be a beautiful day,” I said almost convincingly. In truth, it was the lowest point of our five-day hike in the S. Utah and N. Arizona Paria Wilderness.

    Paria – VenturingOutdoors.com


    Now this is a trip report!

    Certainly the best we’ve seen for Paria Canyon.

    They detail problems with JetBoil stoves. and critique the rest of their gear. A new GoLite Infinity pack (made of lightweight silicone impregnated fabric) get holes in it the first day from rubbing against canyon walls and has a large tear by the end of the hike.

     Hiking Trip-Reports Paria-Trip-Report 2

    Paul Grube’s Buckskin and Paria trip report is a fascinating, honest look at the challenges and rewards of canyon hiking.

    We’ve linked to the report in a number of places from Paria Canyon – on besthike.

     Hiking Trip-Reports Paria-Trip-Report 17

    hike sharing – MyOutdoors.net

    Serious adventurer Jeffrey Poznanovic likes a new site called MyOutdoors.net.

    “Map your outdoor activities. Journal your progress. Attach Photos. Share it all with friends and family.”

    The map-based interface is not all that intuitive. Using a mash-up of Google Maps is touchy. Most people make mistakes using that AJAX technology.

    But if you take the time to figure out how it works, MyOutdoors has some very cool features including: mileage distances, elevation profile, GPS waypoints, linked photos, and more that I do not understand.

    No doubt about it, sites like this are the future of hiking. We’ll be linked by satellite on the trail, uploading video and photo directly to MyOutdoors in real time. (The rescue helicopter will have exact coordinates and visuals by which to confirm location!)

    They need to simplify the interface. Or, at minimum, put up a friendly video tutorial to show me how to best use the site.

    Want to try it out yourself? Check the Wind River Backpacking entry in Wyoming.


    Wind River Backpacking – MyOutdoors.net

    For more information – Cirque of the Towers – besthike.com

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